CHICAGO, IL - MAY 01: Manny Acta #11 manager of the Cleveland Indians takes Ubaldo Jimenez #30 out of the game in the fifth inning on May 1, 2012 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
Rain delayed the start time by an hour, and the game was not worth the wait.
I will not dwell too much on the awful third inning, other than to say that that type of play is not acceptable at any time of the year, never mind in early May after an off day. And that if a fireworks display causes enough smoke to disrupt play, maybe it's a good idea to at the very least tone it down.
Ubaldo Jimenez's line:
4.2 IP, 8 H, 7 R (4 ER), 6 BB, 1 SO, 2 HR, 105 Pitches (54 Strikes)
This came against one of the weaker offenses in the league. US Cellular is an easy park to hit home runs in, but Jimenez's problem yet again was walks and low velocity. His fastballs were only in the low 90s, and you can't get away with that combination against any kind of offense. If Ubaldo pitches this way on Sunday, his outing's going to shorter than 4.2 innings, since he'll be facing the Texas Rangers. And after Texas, he's going to face the Boston Red Sox. And if there's no disruption in the rotation, he'll be facing the Detroit Tigers four starts from now. The lineups he's going to face over the next three weeks are going to be much more patient, and they're going to know that he can't find the strike zone.
Jimenez has never been a control guy, but he's made up for it with lots and lots of strikeouts and very few home runs, thanks to overpowering stuff. His stuff isn't overpowering now so his strikeout rate is 4.5, half of what it usually is. Some of that I suppose could be chalked up to he being behind in the count all the time, but he just isn't getting swings and misses. I'm not pressing the panic button just yet, but my finger is just inches above it.
Manny Acta emptied the bench again tonight, which he tends to do against a left-handed pitcher. Carlos Santana made the start at first base (thankfully giving Casey Kotchman the night off) but there was a lot of breathing space for starter Chris Sale. He didn't breeze through the Tribe lineup as in his first start, but he didn't have too much trouble, especially after the Indians gifted the Sox four runs in the third. Shelley Duncan, who will be losing playing time now that Johnny Damon is on the roster, had his best offensive night in a while, going 2-for-3 with a double and a home run. Batters 1-5 went a collective 0-for-20 with no walks, so I'm not going to blame the bench guys for the lack of offense.
As mentioned above, the Indians added Johnny Damon to the roster before the game. At least initially, he's going to be the leadoff hitter, and he's going to be the left fielder, relegating Shelley Duncan into a reserve role. I'm not sure what to make of Damon batting leadoff, especially given all the unknowns that come with a 38-year-old player who didn't participate in spring training. Acta's reasons:
"Other than the .350-plus on-base percentage that he has lifetime?" Acta said. "Other than that? And the close to 3,000 hits he's got? And the fact that over the last three years he's hit lefties even better than righties? What, the beard? The hair? What else do you want me to give you?"
With Damon in the lineup, the Indians will have against right-handed pitchers zero right-handed bats. So there aren't really too many ways to arrange the lineup without having 3-4 non-switch hitters in a row for left-handed relievers to face in the late innings.